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May We be Forgiven Hardcover – 11 Oct 2012


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Publications Ltd (11 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847083242
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847083241
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 3.8 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (276 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 297,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

AM Homes is a masterful dissector of modern American life. She excels in portraying the minutiae of a dysfunctional family (is there any other kind?), creating characters who are both repellent and magnetic. Her writing exerts a push-pull that feels like being in a hall of mirrors. You want to run away but you find yourself compelled to look at the reflection ... AM Homes can't really be compared to any other writer; no one else is quite as dark and funny and elegant all at the same time. May We Be Forgiven has the narrative intensity of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections and the emotional punch of Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved, all told through the eyes of Larry David. It's the best thing I've read this year. --Observer

A wonderful, wild, heartbreaking, hilarious and astonishing novel ... Homes is a very, very funny writer, brilliant at pinpointing the ridiculous nature of 21st-century living ... This is a piercing, perceptive and deeply funny novel about the nature of life, and about finding your family wherever you can, wherever you get comfort and something approaching love. --Independent on Sunday

She is one of the funniest writers laugh-out-loud funny. The internet dating scenes in her new novel include vengeful children making their own use of their mom s SM handcuffs. She has a deadpan understated humour that builds line by line into comic intent. Her humour is often overlooked by reviewers perhaps because women aren t supposed to be funny. --Jeanette Winterson, Guardian

This novel starts at maximum force - and then it really gets going. I can't remember when I last read a novel of such narrative intensity; an unflinching account of a catastrophic, violent, black comic, transformative year in the history of one broken American family. Flat-out amazing. --Salman Rushie

To call May We Be Forgiven "compelling" would be an understatement; it is a novel as compulsive as its characters. --Financial Times

About the Author

A. M. HOMES is the author of the novels, This Book Will Save Your Life, Music for Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers and Jack, two collections of short stories, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects and the highly acclaimed memoir, The Mistress's Daughter, as well as the travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and the Castle on the Hill. She is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and writes frequently on arts and culture for numerous magazines and newspapers. She is currently writing for a new major US TV Series. She lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 110 people found the following review helpful By Sue Kichenside TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Dec. 2012
Format: Hardcover
An outstanding year for new literary fiction culminates for me in a book of quite astonishing bravery, audacity and hilariously grim satire. Can this really be the state of the middle-class nuclear family in the US today? A. M. Homes seems to be saying that it is. This book is a disturbing read; it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. But it is definitely for anyone who appreciates razor-sharp writing.

Briefly, it is the story of two brothers: Harold, the narrator, and George, just eleven months younger. George is a thoroughly nasty piece of work and now he has lost his mind. A trail of devastating events leaves mild-mannered, college lecturer Harold to pick up the pieces. Will he be able to cope? Will he ever finish his book on Richard Milhous Nixon? And why, you may ask, is he writing a book about a discredited dead ex-President whom none of his students remember? Factor in a couple of disturbed children (excellent characters, these), internet dating with some fairly grubby sex and a legal system that seems unacquainted with the term `justice', and you have an unflinching indictment of middle-class America in the early years of the 21st century. Read it and weep.

But you will also laugh because it is very funny. Even funnier, perhaps, for Jewish readers. Towards the end of the book there is a noticeable mellowing and when the family travels to a tiny village in South Africa to celebrate Harold's nephew Nate's Bar Mitzvah, Homes reveals that she can do tenderness and optimism too.

What makes A. M. Homes such an interesting writer is that she does not fit neatly into any particular pigeon-hole and she knows how to nail her targets with needle-sharp precision. Devastating.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Felis on 7 July 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I decided to check out the writer upon her winning a fiction prize out of a strong shortlist. I read the Kindle sample and was compelled to purchase the title almost immediately, based on the magnificient and highly original start. Up to about the middle I enjoyed the black humour, the visceral punch (normally I would find it distressing, but I accepted the plot precisely because of the black humour) the power of observation of American life, the vivid characterisation of the protagonists, the 'Jewish humour'.

Then something happens and the novel becomes a feel-good bore. Not that some scenes are not superbly drawn, but A M Homes changes tack and direction and never really comes back. Up till the last moment I waited for the dark undertones to return, perhaps to warn the reader that things are never so 'good', but nothing happens except everything melts into redemption and reconciliation in suburbia, as per the title. To me, this is inconsistent and she has written two books here, the second of which I do not care for as much as the first.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 8 Aug. 2013
Format: Paperback
Harry is the older brother of the bullying, violent, egotistical TV executive George and the book opens as he and his Asian wife (the first of the sickening borderline racist stereotypes) are visiting his house for Thanksgiving. And from there on in it all goes wrong. In the first 50 pages we're presented with an amazing series of events culminating in tragedy that affects everyone around them. No matter how hard Harry tries to make amends for his 'bad deed' he's constantly either screwing it up, or just adding to his woes. The problem is, Harry is such a child that in the beginning, his inability to grow up hampers everything, resulting in a spiral towards internet hook-ups for sex, picking up a very strange girl and taking her home...for sex (for such a loser, Harry does get around a bit) and then there's the self-medicating anything and everything he can get his hands on, causing a major health alert in the first half of the book.

But eventually, the responsibility he is forced to take on in the form of his niece and nephew, give Harry a massive wake-up call and he starts to face up to what he's done and his journey to redemption begins.
It's a long journey too, during which his work as a Nixon scholar and author takes him closer to the disgraced President than he thought he would get. His re-evaluation of Nixon causes Harry to also look at his own life, work and what he actually needs in this World as opposed to what the American Dream is telling him he needs. Sometimes the Nixon analogies get in the way and Homes lays the satire on a bit thick.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mrs Susan M Hazelwood on 27 Aug. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was disappointed in this. I had heard and read good things about the book but I found it never ending. The story doesn't take you anywhere and just seems to move from one unbelievable scenario to the next. I didn't actually like any of the characters either so could not really empathise with them.
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful By streetspiritlondon on 13 Feb. 2014
Format: Paperback
I quite enjoyed Homes last novel; this book will save your life and I found the first 50 pages of this novel equally as interesting. From then on, well I'm still working out how to go about claiming back all those wasted hours I spent ploughing through the rest. There's a plot in there somewhere but boy, does it go on and on and on. Does Home contract state that her first draft is the only draft that will be published because this book could do with losing 200 pages of rambling nothingness. It lacks structure, plot and any strong characterisation. How it won awards I do not know.
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